CAIRO: The day after the UNESCO director general vote, the Egyptian press was united under one banner: We were robbed.
Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni was the victim of a concerted campaign against his bid for the UNESCO top job led by Europe, the US and Jewish groups, which snatched victory from him in the final round of voting, Egypt’s press said.
Hosni lost by four votes to Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova in the fifth and final round of voting on Tuesday evening.
Independent daily Al-Shorouk quotes unnamed sources as saying that Hosni would have won the UNESCO election “if it were not for the intensive interference from Washington supported by pressure from European Jewish groups.
Government mouthpiece Al-Ahram said that Hosni lost after an “honorable battle during which the US and Europe strove to “stop Farouk Hosni’s advance towards UNESCO and was supported by a fierce Jewish media campaign.
Al-Ahram quotes Hosni himself as saying that he is “against UNESCO’s politicization and considers stances taken against his nomination and the direction taken during the elections as politicization.
Independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm quotes an unnamed source “close to Hosni as saying that “nobody imagined that powerful countries in America [sic] and Europe would join together against the Egyptian candidate in this way.
According to the source, the timing of the successive nine candidates who withdrew from the election was “arranged to guarantee that the Bulgarian candidate would win.
The “fierce European and US campaigns to stop some countries from voting for Hosni continued throughout Tuesday, the source added, even taking the form of bribes.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that “at least one person was ejected from the [UNESCO] building by UNESCO security staff for trying to bribe delegates on Monday – a claim denied by a UNESCO spokeswoman who told AP that while there have been rumors of bribery “no formal complaint has surfaced.
An Al-Masry Al-Youm columnist described the election as a “battle of Arab culture within UNESCO.
“It’s a clash of civilizations on the one hand, and a battle of political and international influence on the other. It’s a clash of civilizations and cultures between the Arabs and some Jews, Abdel-Moaty Bayoumy writes.
Hosni has been the subject of intense criticism – including a campaign waged under the banner ‘Save UNESCO’ – because of his remarks that he would burn any Israeli books he found in the Library of Alexandria.
Bayoumy suggests that Hosni has done “much to prove that he is not against Jewish culture such as the restoration of Egyptian synagogues and the apology he made for his “slip of the tongue.
“It was taken as an excuse – as is always the case with the Zionist program .Their eyes only see the mistakes and ignore the man’s general principles and stances. This means that Arab culture and the Arab nationality is targeted.
While emphasizing that “we are not against Jews or Judaism Bayoumy criticizes the “fanaticism in the UNESCO election, born of “fear and dread that Arab culture will have influence in the world via [an Arab UNESCO director general] or that an Arab person will enjoy influence.
The writer is also critical of the position taken by the US, asking, “is the America of this week in UNESCO the same America we saw in Cairo University [during Obama’s speech] when Obama made peace with Arab and Muslim culture?
In Al-Gomhuria, Mohamed Ali Ibrahim examines the “suspect alliance against Hosni.
He writes that in the third round of voting it became clear that European states were split into two camps; one in favor of Hosni, the other – dominated by “racism and fanaticism and led by Germany and Denmark – was against an Arab Muslim candidate holding the UNESCO position.
Ecuadorian candidate Yvonne Abdel Baqy was encouraged to withdraw her nomination by the US so that her nine votes would go to Bokova, Ibrahim says.
This theory contradicts the account given by Al-Ahram on its front page.
Al-Ahram quotes a Palestinian diplomat as saying that Abdel Baqy was persuaded to withdraw her nomination by Soha Arafat, the widow of Yasser Arafat.
Whatever the truth behind Abdel Baqy’s withdrawal from the race, Bayoumy says that it was at this point that “President Mubarak’s planning and mastery came into their own.
Ibrahim says that Mubarak was able to secure four of Abdel Baqy’s votes from Latin American countries through telephone calls to the King of Spain.
In this way, Ibrahim writes, Mubarak scuppered plans that voting would end in the fourth round with 33 votes for Bokova, because “of the respect that the King of Spain has for Mubarak.which pushed him to support Farouk Hosni.
“No other world leader knows how to use his friendships and connections with various leaderships like President Mubarak.
In a long rant in the state-run Al-Gomhuria, Mohamed Abu Kraisha begins by describing the Jewish love of “bargaining and the fact that “they want everything brought to them, like ‘home delivery.’
Abu Kraisha then goes on to say that “Israel, ruled by the Jewish nature since the time of Moussa, is never patient for one meal, even if it is a strategic choice. It wants more meals, and more Arab concessions, and more negotiations to amuse itself with, and more dancing of Arab monkeys on tables.
“Israel will never give up it’s strategy, which is war and aggression towards Arabs.It is for this reason that they waged war against the Arabs in UNESCO, and fought viciously in order to bring down the Arabs’ candidate, Farouk Hosni.
Writing in Al-Ahram Ahmed Moussa laments the fact that “some people in Egypt stood against Hosni and attacked and criticized him. In so doing they lent support to the Israeli and American positions.
The US, Moussa says, rallied “all its forces against Hosni “with the support of the Jewish lobby.
Moussa also criticizes Egyptians who did not support Hosni’s UNESCO bid.
He asks, “why is there a group of people living side by side with us in our nation who have no sense of loyalty to the country and its people, and who are in alliance with the Americans and the Jews? Are these people really Egyptian?